UN Women welcomes CEDAW General Recommendation on women’s access to justice

Date: Wednesday, August 19, 2015

UN Women welcomes the recently published General recommendation no. 33 on women’s access to justice by the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), adopted in late July.

Unhindered access to justice for women is a critical pathway for the achievement of gender equality. Justice ensures the protection of economic assets, bodily integrity, and political voice and provides redress when such protections are violated or compromised. Respect and protection of human rights can only be guaranteed only if effective domestic remedies are available. Legal rights are meaningful only if they can be asserted. Access to justice is therefore an essential component of rule of law and a means for women to actively claim the entire range of human rights, including those articulated in the CEDAW Convention.

The General recommendation is founded on notions of inclusiveness and comprehensiveness. It stresses the importance of women’s access to justice in diverse legal systems and all areas of law for all women, irrespective of economic or social status, political background, geographical location, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity. It encompasses all justice settings (formal, informal or semi-formal), sources of law (common law, civil law, religious law, customary law or mixed legal systems) and the full range of legal domains (criminal, civil, family, administrative and constitutional).

The General recommendation will bolster UN Women’s efforts to implement the conclusions of our 2012 Progress of the World’s Women Report — In Pursuit of Justice, in which we shed evidence on the structural barriers that women face in their efforts to access justice. Growing inequalities in society, and a lack of justice for vulnerable groups, emerged as major concerns of the post-2015 Global Thematic Consultation on Addressing Inequalities which was co-led by UN Women and UNICEF.

The success of the post-2015 development agenda therefore requires appropriate policy and legal frameworks, actions to protect women from discrimination and revamped measures to enable those whose capabilities have been harmed by inequalities to claim and realize their rights. By challenging power relationships and the status quo, legal protections and forums enforce women’s entitlements in all spheres—economic, environmental, social, cultural and political.

The General recommendation is a catalyst for transformative change in the lives of women. UN Women therefore looks forward to being a part of this through its use by our staff, particularly at country level.